Buying and Using Cutting Boards

(Last Updated On: September 13, 2010)

The cutting board – the best friend of the knife (or it’s worst enemy?) is an essential tool that every kitchen needs. But not just any cutting board will do. There are numerous cutting boards available today. I think only two materials should be considered when buying a cutting boards : wood and plastic. You should stay far far away from glass cutting boards. Although they may be pretty and easy to clean, they will do a number on your knives. The surface of glass will cause your knives to dull and dull knives means you need to put more pressure to use them and that can lead to some serious injuries. Metal, granite, and marble also are pretty, but will dull your knives.

So that leaves us with plastic and wood. I would recommend having both. Why? Wood really is the best surface to cut on. However, the problem with wood is that when dealing with raw meat it’s easy for the wood to pick up bacteria that you will not enjoy along with your food. So for raw meat I use plastic, but for everything else it’s wood all the way. On an episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown mentioned that his favorite type of wood cutting board is made of rock maple. It’s not cheap, but it’s a good investment that with the proper care, will be with you for a long time.

Once you have your cutting board it’s important to take good care of it. Clean your boards with soap and water after every use. Once and a while it’s good to take some white distilled vinegar and rub down your board (whether it’s plastic or wood). Rinse the vinegar off and let the board air dry. You can also put plastic boards into your dishwasher. Never do that with wooden boards, it will ruin them.

Over time your boards will get cuts in them. With wood you can use some sand paper and smooth out the surface. Make sure you sand it with the grain. Then apply a coat of mineral oil that you can find at any neighborhood pharmacy. Never use oils meant for cooking. They could possibly go rancid. Never use furniture oils, because they are poisonous. The downfall with plastic boards is that when they get cuts in them, you can’t sand them, and you really have to buy a new one, as it’s important to get them perfectly clean and free of bacteria.

So stop using a plate, your counter top, or whatever you are using to cut things on and get yourself a plastic and wooden cutting board. It will make the job you are doing easier and keep your knives sharper longer.